COVID-19 Pandemic: Supply Chain & Logistics Terminologies That Are Gaining Momentum

Lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have made home deliveries the safest means to buy essential items like grocery, medicine, and food. This has resulted in demand shocks for retailers across the globe. Even some of the world’s largest retailers, like Amazon and Walmart, are struggling to meet this sudden surge in demand. Amid this entire conundrum, there are some terminologies that have gained significant importance in the world of supply chain and logistics. 

‘Contactless Payment’
The words contactless payment might not be new, but it was never really associated with last-mile delivery. Now with ‘social distancing’ becoming the norm of the day, retailers are trying their best to provide customers with contactless or “tap-and-go” payment options to completely eliminating cash transactions. These payment options are basically OTP based transactions or include payments executed by touching cards.

‘Dark Store’
Surging demands amid lockdowns make have made inventory management extremely difficult. One-way retailers are dealing with this challenge is by opening ‘dark stores.’ This justifies the importance of these words. Dark stores look like supermarkets but are closed to the customers. These stores are treated as mini-warehouses that are closer to customer locations. This ensures that pickup orders are executed faster and automating pickups within these stores will make inventory even more efficient.

‘Contactless Deliveries’
Social distancing has also fuelled the popularity of the words ‘contactless deliveries.’ Relatively new. It means leaving a delivery at a customer’s doorstep without any physical means of intimation like ringing a bell or knocking. A delivery executive keeps order at a customer’s doorstep, takes a picture of the same and sends it to the customers to inform that the delivery is done. Then the customer picks it up when she wants.

Crowdsourcing, a word extremely popular among modern the developer community has now gained immense significance in the online delivery industry. The need to rapidly scale delivery operations to meet demand surge is driving businesses to leverage crowdsourcing technologies to onboard temporary or part-time delivery executives to execute jobs when internal resources are exhausted. Crowdsourcing technologies optimize staff capacity by onboarding executives from across disparate delivery provider ecosystems.

‘Crisis Teams’
Crisis Teams do not sound like jargon but its importance is justified given what the world is going through now. Here is why it’s so significant now. To respond quickly to immediate supply chain challenges, businesses are building "Crisis Teams." But a crisis team that does not have enough authority to make decisions is not useful enough. To manage supply chain and logistics operations amid the ongoing pandemic, retailers leaving certain key aspects of decision making to employees below their management levels as these teams have first-hand knowledge about ground-level activities. Researches have highlighted that Chinese retailers empowered their line of directors below the management to take prompt action and decisions to address immediate concerns, so as not to overwhelm the already overburdened senior management. 

‘Dynamic Routing’
These words have gained tremendous momentum in the logistics industry. But its significance, during these lockdown periods, is unparalleled for online delivery companies. Savvy businesses are now rapidly introducing real-time and dynamic routing capabilities to maximize staff-vehicle utilization capacity. Such capabilities not only increase delivery productivity and shrink fuel consumption expenses, but it also ensures businesses can efficiently plan multiple drops on a particular delivery route. Dynamic routing is also empowering businesses to ensure that the demands of the vulnerable (people seriously impacted by COVID-19 and lockdowns) are met first. Dynamic routing help businesses develop capabilities that allow emergency collections and deliveries while a driver is out on the road.

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